Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Changing Diapers and God's Grace

*I wrote this many years ago (Liam will turn 19 this month). I came across it while doing some personal study on the topic of grace. The sentiments are still true.

Grace is like changing diapers. No matter how often it happens, or how bad the mess is, I still change Liam's diapers. This, in spite of the fact that he has done nothing to earn it.

The reason is because I look on him with favor.

God's grace can be defined as his unmerited favor toward us. Being a recipient of grace (through Christ) means that God looks on me with favor, regardless of what I do.

Liam's worst diaper cannot begin to compare to the stench of my sin before God. Yet, he continues to look on me with favor. He provides for me. He guides me. He has a future for me. None of this is merited, but it is all given me because I am in Christ.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Grace and Peace to You.

Ephesians 1:2
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace
In the New Testament, “grace” almost always is another word for “gift”. Everything God gives us is a demonstration of His grace toward us. We deserve nothing, yet He gives us everything. In the same way, grace should characterize all our relationships with others. We should be gift-giving people. Our gifts may not always be material, sometimes our gifts may simply be time or lending an ear to a friend. Even presence can be a great gift when someone is walking a difficult road.

Peace
We are at peace with God because of His grace to us. Once we were His enemies, now we are His daughters and sons. Likewise, grace is the key to peace in our relationships with those around us. When we are willing to look past the shortcomings of others (as God has looked past ours), we can experience full peace.

You cannot experience peace until you’ve experienced grace. Today, because of Jesus, you can be at peace with the maker of the universe. You can be free of guilt and shame. You can face tomorrow with joy, hope and confidence. You can know that whatever this brief life holds you will spend eternity in the glorious presence of God your Father. This is PEACE and it is yours because of God’s GRACE.

You cannot live at peace until you’ve extended grace. As people who have been given grace, we must be people who give grace. A peaceful life will be the result. 

Read more about GRACE and PEACE here:




Monday, June 25, 2018

God's Will vs. My Will

Ephesians 1:1
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:

Paul was sold out to God's will. He was willing to do whatever, go wherever and be whoever God wanted Him to be. As a result, he found himself traveling the world, sharing the good news of Jesus with everyone he encountered. Everything about his life was shaped by God's will rather than his own.

One of the greatest temptations we face is to spend all our time and energy telling God what we want Him to do, how we want Him to provide for us and where we want Him to take us. Unfortunately, life never goes well when we are trying to impose our will on God. One of the best decisions you can ever make is to live your life according to God's will instead of your own.

Read More about God's Will:

Faith Is Focusing On God's Authority, Not My Own Ability

Commandment One: Nothing Shall Compare To Me

Thursday, May 24, 2018

4 Questions For Better Bible Study

Studying the Bible can be overwhelming. It's not always easy to know exactly what we should be learning when we read. We can become discouraged and give up  looking into God's Word. Before discouragement sets in, consider 2 Timothy 3:16.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for
teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

Because Scripture is "God-breathed", we have confidence that it is truthful and we know that it is authoritative. Because we are promised that "ALL" of it is profitable, we must apply it to our lives. I like to use 2 Timothy 3:16 as a template for Bible study. Paul's four "profitable uses" of Scripture can provide us with FOUR QUESTIONS which will SIMPLIFY and ENHANCE our BIBLE STUDY.


God's word is profitable for teaching. It tells us what is right.

Question One: "What am I presently doing that I should continue doing?"

God's Word is profitable for reproof. It tells us what is wrong.

Question Two: "What am I presently doing that I should stop doing?"

God's Word is profitable for correction. It tells us what we need to change.

Question Three: "What am I presently doing that I should be doing differently?"

God's Word is profitable for training in righteousness. It tells us what we need to add.

Question Four: "What am I presently not doing that I should begin doing?

Next time you sit down with your Bible, ask yourself these four questions and see if you don't discover a practical "next step" along your spiritual journey.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Keeping Up With Your Neighbors Is The Path To Poverty

Proverbs 12:9 says, "Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant
than pretend to be somebody and have no food."

If I were going to paraphrase this proverb, I would say: It doesn't matter what others think if you are wisely saving your money. If you spend your money trying to keep up with those around you, you'll end up with nothing.
Last night I was in a "tech" store just playing around with tablets. The salesman asked me a couple questions, pulled up my phone account and informed me that for a small cost I could upgrade to the latest and greatest iphone.
I told him my current phone was only a year old and worked great.
He said, but this is the iPhone 6! You'll be really glad you upgraded.
Everywhere you look, someone is telling you to buy the newest and best. Whether you need it or can afford it means nothing. You may think everyone is impressed by your collection of gadgets and toys or by the size or your wardrobe, garage or house. They will not be impressed, though, when your spending causes your bank account to run dry and you are begging them for food.
It's better to live in a small house, wear old clothes and drive used cars. Living beneath your means is the most likely path to financial security.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

What Does the Bible Say About That?

What if, in church, we made it our habit to begin our answer to every question we’re asked with:

“Here’s what the Bible says about that…”

I don’t mean that this should be done in a smug or snarky way, but in a way that makes it clear that we (particularly in the church) should approach every issue (particularly those pertaining to the church) by STARTING with the Bible’s teaching on that topic.

Of course, some will read this and say, “But the Bible doesn’t speak to every issue!”

To which I will respond, “The Bible may not answer every question you can ask, but it most certainly addresses any topic which may come up!”


At first, this approach to question-answering, problem-solving, strategic planning, etc. may sound even better than a visit to Pablo’s Tacos on dollar-taco-Tuesday. After a little reflection, however, some may not be too happy with this approach. Consider some of the ramifications:
1) Our own personal opinions will be subjugated to a higher authority. 
2) Our past experiences may not be enough to validate a path of action. 
3) Some really “good” ideas will not be acted upon. 
4) Some really “bad” ideas will be carried out. 
5) The person who knows the Bible best (and I don’t mean the person who is most opinionated about the Bible or the person who beats a few particular Bible passages to death, but rather the person who best understands the larger message of the Bible while being able to interpret the smaller and more specific portions) will be the person who speaks most authoritatively when questions are being answered. 
6) I will not be able to just state my opinion without taking the time to hear what the Bible says about that issue.
By the way, I’d just suggest as an aside here, that number five might be a RADICAL shift in the way business is done in most churches in America.


So, how would this happen in reality?


Q: I’d like to talk to you about the music the teenagers are listening to.
A: Here’s what the Bible says about that. We’re to worship God with a variety of instrumentation and musical styles that reflect the wide diversity of his character and His church. Check out Psalms and Revelation for examples.

Q: I think every one of our small groups should go through this Beth Moore study.
A: Here’s what the Bible says about that. We’re to encourage one another and teach one another and bear with one another and love another and be devoted to one another. So we let each group figure out how they can best carry out those and other "one another" commands on their own.

Q: I’m tired of the legalistic old people in our church.
A: Here’s what the Bible says about that. We’re to honor and respect those who are older than us. We’re also to learn from them. Maybe we need to find better ways to show honor to them rather than just criticize them for legalism.

Q: I’m tired of the rebellious young people in our church.
A: Here’s what the Bible says about that. We’re to find ways to impact those who are younger than us. We need to not just teach them, but significantly invest in their lives so that they can grow up in the faith. Maybe we need to find better ways to build into them rather than just criticize them for being rebellious.

Consider also, if this way of doing things became standard operating procedure in a church.

1) People would center their discussions around Scripture. 
2) Most of the discussions about church would be about what the Bible says instead of about what people think or what “works” 
3) People would go to great efforts to become more Biblically literate, just so they’d have more ability to discuss questions that arise. 
4) Pastors and teachers would speak to and lead captive audiences. 
5) People might begin their questions/suggestions/criticisms by saying, “What do you think the Bible says about…” (and then they might pause to listen to the response!)

So, yeah… now that I’ve hashed all this out, I’m not sure any of us are ready for a church that looks like that! Maybe I should rethink my initial thought.

What if we made it our habit as pastors to begin our answer to every question we’re asked with:

“What does the Bible says about that?”

Friday, May 11, 2018

Do you know the one word that can change your life?

One word, just two letters, can open a world of opportunity for you. The word is "no".

I know we often think of "no" as a negative word and we want to be people who say "yes" more often than not. However, when you choose to say "no" to one thing, you create an opportunity to say "yes" to something more important.


Every time you say "yes", you are saying "no" to something else.
Every time you say "no", you are saying "yes" to something else.

If you say "no" to that show on Netflix, you can say "yes" to time with your family. If you say "no" to 30 minutes of Facebook scrolling, you can say "yes" to 15 minutes of prayer and 15 minutes of Bible study. If you say "no" to that Swiss Cake Roll, you can say "yes" to a more healthy lifestyle. If you say "no" to complaining and worrying, you can say "yes" to joy and peace.

I could go on, but I think you get the point.

God has called you to an amazing life. He has gifted you and prepared you to live that life. If you are too busy or too scared or too tired to live God's way, perhaps it's because you are saying "yes" to the wrong things instead of saying "no".

Over the next few days, when will you choose a "no" that will allow you to say "yes" to something better?